At 8pm on a Monday night, J and I walked into the Bridge Road outlet of the Gurkha's chain to find it buzzing with conversation and laughter from tables full of young diners. On a cold, rainy evening when many of the other restaurants along Bridge Road were packing up for the night, the food and atmosphere at Gurkha's was the perfect refuge.
We were greeted with a smile and a bowl of crunchy pappadums and relish. A bottle of water sat on our table, but glasses weren't delivered until after our meals had been brought out. Service here is friendly and helpful, but staff are young and their focus is getting the food out to the tables, rather than taking note of what else is happening on the floor - you might have to literally grab them to get their attention.
Dal Bhat Masu - Nepali style platter, rice or bread with your choice of meat curry ($16.90).
I chose to have bread with my meal, and as I was struggling to choose which meat I wanted the waitress informed me I was also allowed to have fish. She couldn't tell me the name of the sauce my fish was coming in, but described it as a spicy, creamy, almost sweet sauce. This was pretty spot on, the sauce was deliciously rich and tomatoey. The taste of the fish was good but the skin was left on, and I didn't really enjoy chewing the bumpy, flaky scales.
Dal Bhat - Nepali style platter, rice or bread with lentil and vegetable curry ($15.90).
J had the vegetarian version - the same dish as the one I had with a variation on the curry. The other dishes accompanying the curries were dhal and a stir fry of Asian greens in a salty clear sauce. We both felt that the platter was a good way to sample Nepalese cuisine, allowing us to try a little of everything. Each dish was delicious, the serving of bread was generous, and the meal was great value for money. In fact everything on the menu is reasonably priced, with most mains around $13.
Gurkha's Bridge Road is open for dinner from 5pm-11pm, 7 nights a week. The Gurkha's chain can also be found in Prahran, Carlton, Brunswick, North Fitzroy and Melbourne city.